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No Idle Time for 'American Idol' Wannabe

June 14, 2011 By:
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Jennifer Hirsh

Jennifer Hirsh, you've just won a golden ticket and you're going to ...

West Philadelphia?

Well, it's 3,000 miles from West Hollywood but it's all in the right direction for the 2009 "American Idol" season wannabe.

Hirsh was booted from the Hollywood segment of the TV titan of a reality show two seasons back after winning her "golden ticket" but she has packed her bags with hopes and bragging rights for a tour that brings her to World Cafe Live -- in West Philly -- for a June 16 evening performance.

Ding-Dong! The wickedly talented singer is very much alive and, well, lively with a terrific intro album, "Myself in Two," a double handful of songs composed by guitarist/writer Adam Tressler -- although not including her jazz-dripping version of "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" that caught "A.I." 's eye in 2009.

But much else catches the listener's ear in the debut CD, which convey's Hirsh's soul-trying past year with a soulful bent.

There was the broken relationship she endured and the Simon Legree-like degree she earned from "A.I.," chastened but not cowled.

And now the 25-year-old southern California native comes east with the national exposure given her by one of TV's top musical-chairs of a show. Recognition? "Everyone and their mother has come out of the woodwork" from her past, she says with an appreciative laugh.

She also appreciates its history -- and what it would have meant "for the first Jew to take the crown" had she gone beyond the Hollywood segment and gone Hollywood by taking it all.

"I was always cynical about winning," she claims, since "no winner has been Jewish; it's mainly been Christians from the South."

No Mexi-Jew to toss their sombrero/kipah in the winner's circle? "Mexi-Jew" is how Hirsh describes herself and a "colorful upbringing" by a Mexican-Christian Mom and Jewish Dad.

Double the Fun

"Music has been a huge part of my life," she says, which is reflected by her performing Mexican and Jewish tunes, all of which add, perhaps, to the soulfulness that comes through in her performances.

Two for the tune of one: Corridos and klezmer? Perfect harmony for Hirsh, who sang "in my Hebrew school choir" and concedes that "my Jewish roots are always there" in everything she sings and signs onto.

The trill of it all? She even considered a different stage than the one she'll be performing on at World Cafe Live to make a living: "I once told my Dad" -- who "is in the schmatta business," as a clothing entrepreneur -- "that I wanted to be a cantor."

Not such a surprising ambition given that the family history has a religious ring to it. "My great-great-grandfather was a cantor."

But she may be the first to canter on stage to the songs of her own CD. "Myself in Two" may reflect the bifurcated bicoastal position she took "living in L.A. with my heart in New York," for a year, but splits may heal over time.

No idle time for this "American Idol" wannabe. And there's always that possibility that her split from "A.I." may be ameliorated with a singer's version of soothing salve -- another golden ticket.

"American Idol"? "I just may try that again," says the "Myself in Two" singer with a terrific singular voice.

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